UPDATE: Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times confirms that the deal is done.
12:10 PM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Angels are on the verge of trading catcher Jeff Mathis to the Blue Jays for left-hander Brad Mills.
The Angels acquired Chris Iannetta from the Rockies earlier this week, which made Mathis a virtual lock to be non-tendered. The 28-year-old backstop stands to make close to $2 million in his second year of arbitration, so it’s a wonder why the Blue Jays didn’t just wait to see if he hit the free agent market. I could be wrong here, but I can’t imagine teams were falling over themselves for a .194 career hitter whose defensive contributions can be overstated at times. Anyway, he’ll serve as the backup to J.P. Arencibia next season.
Mills, who turns 27 in March, has an 8.57 ERA and 45/31 K/BB ratio over 48 1/3 innings in brief stints with the Blue Jays over the past three seasons. He has regularly posted impressive numbers in the minor leagues, but barely cracks the mid-80s with his fastball. Perhaps he’ll have a better chance to succeed in the more favorable pitching environment in Anaheim. Hey, at least Dipoto got something of value in return for someone who was going to be non-tendered. That’s a win in my book.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”